GOP launches attack on DOJ immigration suit

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

Congressional Republicans have launched two initiatives to thwart the Obama administration's unpopular legal challenge to Arizona's immigration law.

Last week, Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and David Vitter of Louisiana said they will try to amend legislation that provides tax credits to small businesses to block the Department of Justice from suing Arizona. The measure would cut off funding for the suit, and could be voted on this week.

But it's also possible the measure may never come to a vote. DeMint has unsuccessfully attempted to amend bills to provide for a completely fenced border multiple times, The Hill newspaper points out.

Meanwhile, the House Immigration Reform Caucus, whose 100-plus members are mostly Republicans, is collecting signatures on a "friend of the court" brief they plan to file in support of Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona's federal court.

A spokesman for California Rep. Brian Bilbray, chair of the committee, told Yahoo! News that 32 members have signed the brief as of this morning. They plan to file it on Wednesday.

Nine states have also filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Arizona, CBS reports.

The Justice Deparment's decision to challenge the law as an unconstitutional infringement on federal authority is not popular, especially among independents and Republicans, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told Politico that Republicans' criticism is "political opportunism” that ignores the valid constitutional questions the DOJ raised in its challenge to the law. “Showing support for [Arizona’s law] is supposed to show hardness on immigration, but it’s appropriate that they wait and see whether this law passes constitutional muster,” he said.

The intensified rhetoric around the law suggests that no matter who wins in court, political pressure will remain on Congress and the Obama administration from both sides to act on immigration.